Lawrence Loshak captured the TA pole, edging teammate Tomy Drissi and giving Burtin Racing’s gold Chevrolet Camaros a sweep of the front row in qualifying for Sunday’s Trans Am presented by Pirelli 2019 season-opening event at Sebring International Raceway.
Loshak toured the historic 3.74-mile circuit in 2m00.427s to grab the pole in the No. 3 Pennzoil/Go Share Camaro, edging Drissi’s No. 8 Axalta Camaro by almost a full second.
“It was a dream lap,” Loshak said. “We drivers are always working with the engineers to get that one perfect, impossible lap, and we’re always trying to go faster. In a series like this, the guy behind you is going to pass you if you get complacent.
“The guys gave me an incredible car all weekend. We were P-1 in every session, and then they sprinkled a little special sauce on it for qualifying. They have all the confidence in me, and I came through with a dream lap — and an all-gold front row at Sebring.”
Defending TA champ Ernie Francis Jr. was third in the No. 98 Frameless Shower Doors Ford Mustang, while Chris Dyson — who finished second behind Francis in the 2018 race at Sebring — qualified fourth in the No. 20 Plaid Ford Mustang.
“This is Ernie’s home track,” Loshak said. “We might be fast in one lap, but we’re not going to take [the race] lightly. I’m comfortable [here at] Sebring, but I’ve got to be clean and mistake free. I know Ernie, Tomy and Chris aren’t going to make it easy.”
Francis Jr., last year’s race winner, will have a great view of the start from third on the grid, and has the last lap rather than the first lap in mind for tomorrow.
“I’m not worried about not being on the front row. I think we did a great job for a small team,” said Francis, Jr. “We are running stuff that we work on ourselves. The lap times the leaders turned today will be hard to maintain in the race, and we’ve got a good consistent car for tomorrow.
“I know this place well,” Francis continued, “and I think it is going to be a good race.”
TA2: Defending champion Rafa Matos led TA2 powered by AEM qualifying with a lap of 2m08.269s in the No. 88 3Dimensional Services Group Chevrolet Camaro.
“[In qualifying], the track was very different from the morning’s practice, so I was expecting to be a little bit quicker,” Matos said. “It was very hot and the track was slippery, but I had a good enough pace.
“Our car feels very good and balanced, and I think we will have a real good race car for tomorrow.”
Tony Buffomante was close behind, clocking the second-fastest TA2 lap time in the No. 34 Mike Cope Racing Ford Mustang, with Marc Miller third in the Prefix/Miller Racing Dodge Challenger, a new-to-him car. Last year, Miller passed Matos with two laps remaining to win the Trans Am opener at Sebring.
Super GT/ GT: The SGT and GT classes will race concurrently with TA in Sunday afternoon’s event. Mark Boden was fastest in SGT, seeking his fourth career and third-consecutive SGT triumph at Sebring in the No. 46 Beverage Flavors International Porsche 991 GT3 Cup.
“The temperature cooled down today, and I was really able to take advantage of the changing conditions,” said Boden, who qualified at 2m09.825s. “We had it set up for a one-shot deal, and I didn’t make any mistakes. Now I’m in front when it goes green.”
Tom Herb made it an all-Fall-Line Motorsports front row, qualifying second in the No. 16 Porsche, followed by Lee Saunders’ V10PWR Racing Dodge Viper.
Jeff Courtney led the GT competitors with a best lap of 2m15.536s in the No. 88 Matrix/RecStuff.com/Kendra Maserati GT4, edging Steven Davidson’s Davinci Plastic Surgery Aston Martin Vantage.
“It was an uneventful lap — the way we like it,” said the GT class fastest qualifier. “I was hoping for a clear space and a clean lap, and I got it. I didn’t actually get the tires up to the sweet spot, but we did the lap and now we can save the tires for the race.”